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My 13 year old daughter and I have each read Green Glass House and now this book, which is a back story in the Green Glass House world. My daughter preferred Green Glass House to this, and I might have too, but just barely. I am a huge Patrick O'Brian fan (think 'Master and Commander') and I felt his influence here, something which the author readily admits; Lucy was Aubrey-ish and Max was clearly Maturin-esque. This story is an imaginative adventure in a world which is a mix of steam-punk, naval warfare, espionage, and supernaturally infused real-world happenings (some historical elements mix with alternative history). There are elements of mystery, adventure, dealing with loss, coming of age, broken families, trust and friendship, the ethics of wartime and international relations, and it is all told with with quirky and interesting characters and settings (some of which feel like characters too). Beyond just a really fun story that keeps the reader's attention, there is also thoughtful reflection (worked out in the narrative, not in preachy narration) about the too seldom considered and far too underestimated and unintended dangers of artificial intelligence (AI). This is a good read for ages 11-15, or for those who are still kids at heart. You don't have to have read Green Glass House to enjoy this story on its own.
A friend pointed me toward Kate Milford's books, and I read the existing ones straight through and pre-ordered THE LEFT-HANDED FATE as soon as it was available. Milford's books don't fit into any established category, but define their own parameters. The world-building is exquisite and seamless, every character becomes an absolute favorite or a life-long enemy, and the writing and pacing are just perfect. THE LEFT-HANDED FATE may be the best yet, with new and subtle layers to the people and relationships we thought we knew. Read all the books in order of publication and know that you will not once be disappointed.
Kate Milford's books are relentlessly underrated. She is a fine stylist with a unique imagination. This book is the sequel to a book entitled Bluecrowne, which is only available on Kindle. Deeply appealing characters and spectacular old-fashioned and magical adventures abound.